This year I celebrate my third involvement for the Blogging Shakespeare ’s Happy Birthday Shakespeare Celebration. As usual, part of that is filming myself reading one line of one of the Bard’s works (see video below).
This year it was from Hamlet and that incredible monologue beginning with one of the most famous lines of English, “To be, or not to be.” I was thrilled to have the very next part: “whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. As I practiced I took the opportunity to go back and read the whole section. I had just left a retreat where I had spoken on deep subjects. One of them was on soberness. Not the kind of sober that is associated with drunkenness, although that of course does dull the mind, but the type that keeps us in that place of right perspective and judgement of ourselves. You see, I was speaking about topics like, posing, being the true person you are, your place and calling in life, as well as hearing God and following the divine call. Those might be a bit foreign to some of my readers. Stick with me here. You see, when we look at our lives with sober judgement, we can often find plenty that we are not happy about. We also may find delight.
That is why I thoroughly love Shakespeare’s work. There is something in those words, and the whole section of Hamlet’s speech, that is so full of soberness. He really was in a dire situation.
Yes you can take his words as depressing, but really there is the ups and downs of a grand assessment as he contemplates his own mortality.
But it isn’t all about the sadder themes alone.. Think of the delightful moments in the romances and comedies. There too while one might argue that it is a case of being drunk with happiness, laughter and love, I say that that is often some of the best soberness of all. To live is to both hurt as well as love. All of life’s moments in their varying degrees of emotion are invitations to feel fully alive.
When I want to reflect on my own experience, when I have lost touch with my own heart, I go to Shakespeare’s works both old and new adaptations, to feel once again. And to that I say thank you William Shakespeare and happy birthday.